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Family Of 4 Beginning Our Casita Adventures


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#1 lmk17

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Posted 20 October 2016 - 09:16 AM

Greetings from San Antonio!

 

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it-- The kiddos and I are making the drive up to Rice on Tuesday to pick up our shiny new Spirit 16!  We are a family of 4 (kids are ages 4 & 7) who are seasoned tent campers but decided we're ready to make the leap to a small camper.  At first, I was hoping for a hard-side pop-up, as we could store it in the garage, but none seemed to fit our needs.  My husband, on the other hand, wanted a fiberglass camper from the start.  We called Casita for info earlier this week, and they told us about a 16' Spirit Standard sitting on their lot that had exactly the layout we wanted (bunks up front/no bathroom).  We pounced on it, and things moved quickly from there!  New Casita with no wait.  SCORE! 

 

I know the Casita will be be a bit cramped for 4 people + a dog, but I still think it'll suit us PERFECTLY!  Honestly, I would stick with tent camping save for the lengthy set-up time once we're in camp and also the fact that I don't feel terribly safe surrounded only by canvas in the middle of the night (especially those times when I'm going solo with the kids).  Besides, we camp in order to be in nature, not surrounded by 4 walls all day.    We homeschool the kids and enjoy both camping and road-tripping, and so we're planning to get lots of year-round use out of our little rig.  

 

Any other young families on these forums?  Any general tips for using or towing the Casita?  (I've done limited towing, only small enclosed U-Hauls and still haven't mastered hitching up or backing up.)  Our tow vehicle is my 2012 Odyssey minivan-- I adore that vehicle and have already schlepped it all around the USA.  

 

So that's us!  Looking forward to sticking around and learning all about our new Casita!


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#2 Meadowlark

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    Retired US Army, active field biologist.
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Posted 20 October 2016 - 05:47 PM

Welcome to the Club! First realize that there is no such thing as a ''''stupid''' question here. No matter what, there will be someone on the site that can help, or has experience, etc.

Check out Carol Christensen's "Checklist for Newbies". Type it into the search line and you will find it. Carol knows more about Casitas than just about anybody and has written a comprehensive list to get you going.

 

If you establish a set protocol for hitching up and follow it, after a while it will become second nature. Your manual should tell you how. What we did was wrote (with a Sharpie) on the white plastic propane tank cover all the steps needed to hitch (and unhitch, just reverse the steps.) and set up. By the time it had worn off from weather and traveling we had it in our mind. Still in never hurts to review the steps.

 

As for backing up...well, if I can learn, anyone can. On a Sunday, when no one is working, go to the high school parking lot, or a government office building, anywhere where there is ample parking spaces and no one in them. Put your tow vehicle with Casita attached between a set of lines and practice backing up,pulling forward, etc. To this day I have to LOOK at the back of the Casita (by sticking my head out the window) to make it go where I want but hey, it works. Take your time and have plenty of patience. Practise makes perfect. Once you can back up straight (and I am the first to say that my first attempts weren't straight at ALL) then you can practise turning while backing. Take your time.After a while it will come to you and then it gets to be kinda fun. You will get it, I promise.

I've repeated this story elsewhere on this forum but this will make you laugh. I and my husband had done precisely what I said: took the Casita out to a federal office building on a Sunday so that I could learn to back it up. I chose one "H"  set of parking space lines and pulled back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. We didn't even know he was there until we heard a homeless man living in the bushes scream "For God's sakes lady just PICK ONE!!"

 

Again, welcome to this very fine forum and happy camping!


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These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

2011 17" Spirit Deluxe, "Grus Egg"

 

"Civilization began when we stopped eating horses and began riding them."


#3 NASA42 B

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 05:07 AM

​Imk17.......

 

Welcome to the (extended) Casita family!  This clan has everyone involved somewhere along the way, from geezers like me to growing, happily active families such as your own.   Tight it might be for 4 & a dog, but your new magic carpet can be your ticket to years of enjoyment!  Hope to meet you somewhere down the road.

 

​Frank  :rolleyes: 


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#4 clover

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Posted 21 October 2016 - 11:03 AM

you will be just fine in the space since you are coming from tent camping, you will think you are in the Taj Mahal. Although the 17' is a world of difference in size and storage. 

 

My son and I started to travel in our Casita 9 years ago when he was 5. We traveled with 2 small dogs (Dachshund & Welsh Corgi) Neither of us are large people and we never felt cramped. Little kids adjust very easily. 

 

My son loves the Casita so much he started to ask last year, "mom, when you pass, do I get the Casita?"  He even loves to "driveway camp" or "back pasture camp". We have had countless travel adventures to more than 2 dozen National Parks, countless COE and State Parks. Lots of dispersed dry camping in National Forests and on BLM land. Hunting & fishing trips, 4H competitions, Rabbit Show, Shooting Sports venues. I think my son has benefited in many ways from our travels. His appreciation for the outdoors and wildlife is second nature and a life passion. 

 

I'd pick up a nice porta potty to keep in the camper for those nights the little ones need to go but you don't want to tread to the facilities in the dark, cold or rain. Before we got our Casita we use to travel and camp in our 3 horse slant load trailer with a small living quarters in the front. The porta potty was a blessing many times.

 

Have a blast with the kids! They grow up too fast, I can't believe mine will be off to college in less than 4 years. 

 

All the BEST!


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Happy Trails!
Clover
2003 17' SD
2002 F350 Diesel Crew Cab
(I know it is overkill but we live on a real ranch it takes a vacation with the Casita)


#5 highplainsdrifter

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 06:49 AM

Welcome to the forum and the world of Casita!! So happy that you're so excited about picking up your new Casita and don't blame you. We started taking the kids in our pop-up trailer when our daughter was 4 and our son was 1. Best family times you can imagine. Our kids still love it even though they're now 33 and 30!

You'll certainly feel cramped at times so having the ability to be outside under the trailer's awning, and/or having some sort of shelter that you can set up outside will definitely help.

As far as general tips-You'll need a class 3 hitch and a brake controller, assuming the requirements are the same as for a 17'.

There's a lot to learn but fortunately, there are lots of knowledgeable folks here to answer about any questions you might have.

Good luck and good travels!!

Bill
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#6 lmk17

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 05:33 PM

Thanks for the warm welcomes, everyone!  Really looking forward to starting our adventures with our shiny new camper!

 

 

If you establish a set protocol for hitching up and follow it, after a while it will become second nature. Your manual should tell you how. What we did was wrote (with a Sharpie) on the white plastic propane tank cover all the steps needed to hitch (and unhitch, just reverse the steps.) and set up. By the time it had worn off from weather and traveling we had it in our mind. Still in never hurts to review the steps.

 

I've repeated this story elsewhere on this forum but this will make you laugh. I and my husband had done precisely what I said: took the Casita out to a federal office building on a Sunday so that I could learn to back it up. I chose one "H"  set of parking space lines and pulled back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. We didn't even know he was there until we heard a homeless man living in the bushes scream "For God's sakes lady just PICK ONE!!"

 

Again, welcome to this very fine forum and happy camping!

 

I like the idea about the checklist, thanks!  Think I might laminate a list and take it along with some dry erase markers.  :)

 

I'll definitely need some practice with the trailer!  I bought a pair of those little hitch-up sticks with the balls on the end, but I'm sure it all just takes time and practice.  Might purposefully seek out campgrounds with pull-throughs for awhile to avoid backing up, though!  LOL  And that's hilarious about the guy yelling at you!

 

My son loves the Casita so much he started to ask last year, "mom, when you pass, do I get the Casita?" 

 

I'd pick up a nice porta potty to keep in the camper for those nights the little ones need to go but you don't want to tread to the facilities in the dark, cold or rain. Before we got our Casita we use to travel and camp in our 3 horse slant load trailer with a small living quarters in the front. The porta potty was a blessing many times.

 

That's funny!  We don't even have the camper yet, and already my 7 year old has asked, "Can I get the camper when you and Dad get too old to camp?"  The kids have had camper envy for years now whenever we're out tent camping.  I think they can hardly believe the whole buying a trailer thing is real.  

 

Tell me about the porta potty, please.  I've casually looked into them.  However, I keep one of those little plastic toddler potties in my van for "emergency" use for the kids, and I just don't see a huge advantage of the porta potty over the little toddler one I already have.  Granted, it's a little yucky to have what is essentially a glorified chamber pot sitting around until I get a chance to empty it in the morning or whatever, but is the porta potty worth the price when I could just use the toddler potty until the kids outgrow it?  (I'm assuming any potty will be for the kids' use, as there's no privacy in the Casita, and despite 15 years together, my husband and I don't do our "business" in front of one another!  Some things are best unseen!)  ;)

 

You'll certainly feel cramped at times so having the ability to be outside under the trailer's awning, and/or having some sort of shelter that you can set up outside will definitely help.

As far as general tips-You'll need a class 3 hitch and a brake controller, assuming the requirements are the same as for a 17'.
 

 

I agree that a somewhat weather-protected space outside would be great.  I've looked at the Clam shelters and also have considered just bringing along our Kodiak Canvas tent to use as a shelter.  Do you have a favorite shelter or screen room you'd recommend?

 

We have a 2" hitch receiver and a 4-pin light controller on the van already, but we do need to get the brake controller set up.  Do you know if the wiring for the brake controller is pretty standard, or does Casita require anything that the local U-Haul shop would be unaccustomed to installing?  I created a separate post to ask about this but figure it can't hurt to ask again.  I received the wiring diagram from Casita today but can't really make heads or tails of it.  I've done some light electrical work on the house but never anything involving the cars.



#7 lmk17

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Posted 22 October 2016 - 06:01 PM

Also, do any of you know whether I can use a credit card to pay for my Casita at the factory?  We intend to pay "cash" but want to put the camper on our credit card first so that we get the many (many! HA!) reward points.  The paperwork I received today specifically states they will not accept cash or personal checks but doesn't mention credit cards one way or the other.  I also emailed Harald to ask him, but thought you all might know, as well.
 



#8 clairemr1

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 06:55 AM

Also, do any of you know whether I can use a credit card to pay for my Casita at the factory?  We intend to pay "cash" but want to put the camper on our credit card first so that we get the many (many! HA!) reward points.  The paperwork I received today specifically states they will not accept cash or personal checks but doesn't mention credit cards one way or the other.  I also emailed Harald to ask him, but thought you all might know, as well.
 

i'd wait to hear the definite answer from the sales rep. sometimes company policy changes and you wouldn't want to get down there and be unpleasantly surprised. enjoy your acquisition, you will love it..............


claire and merlin, excellent schnoodle

2015 white toyota tacoma

rally host


#9 lmk17

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 07:05 AM

Oh, yes. I definitely want to hear the final word from the Casita folks themselves. I was just looking for anecdotes in the meanwhile to give myself an idea whether I need to make time to head to the bank tomorrow for a certified check.

#10 highplainsdrifter

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  • Casita Model/Size:Spirit Dlx 17'
  • Interests:Travel, flyfishing, photography, hiking, backpacking, canoeing
  • Gender:Male
  • Trailer Name:Cassie

Posted 23 October 2016 - 07:20 AM

I agree that a somewhat weather-protected space outside would be great.  I've looked at the Clam shelters and also have considered just bringing along our Kodiak Canvas tent to use as a shelter.  Do you have a favorite shelter or screen room you'd recommend?
 
We have a 2" hitch receiver and a 4-pin light controller on the van already, but we do need to get the brake controller set up.  Do you know if the wiring for the brake controller is pretty standard, or does Casita require anything that the local U-Haul shop would be unaccustomed to installing?  I created a separate post to ask about this but figure it can't hurt to ask again.  I received the wiring diagram from Casita today but can't really make heads or tails of it.  I've done some light electrical work on the house but never anything involving the cars.


Since you all ready have the tent that might be a good way to start. We bought an InCamp shelter from REI when we were still tent camping a couple years ago. It works OK but was bought more for rain & stability (we get some crazy winds here) than for keeping the bugs out.

Casita requires a hitch rated @ 3500lbs with a 300lb tongue load for their 16' trailer. I would show the wiring diagram to whomever is installing your brake controller and trailer connection. In my extremely limited knowledge, at least some newer vehicles (last 10 years or so) have a wiring harness installed all ready, it may be tied to the vehicle having a towing package. This harness makes it easier, cheaper to install the brake controller. My 4Runner sadly did not have the harness.
 

Also, do any of you know whether I can use a credit card to pay for my Casita at the factory?  We intend to pay "cash" but want to put the camper on our credit card first so that we get the many (many! HA!) reward points.  The paperwork I received today specifically states they will not accept cash or personal checks but doesn't mention credit cards one way or the other.  I also emailed Harald to ask him, but thought you all might know, as well.


Casita's policy on payment last year was: Outstanding balances must be paid by Certified funds. Cashier's check, money order, bank drafts, wire transfer. No personal checks or credit cards!

Bill

#11 oregonlavender

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 11:38 AM

In 2014 I was able to put the initial$2,000.00 down payment on a credit card but the balance was to be prepaid by check. As long as it cleared before I got there a personal check was fine. My hitch was not right for the trailer so Casita made the hitch that would work and welded the small ball for the sway bar. I was concerned about paying for the last little odds and ends but Harald laughed and said they had most of the money and would trust my check. They were so wonderful to deal with. A four pin will not work, you w I'll need a 7 pin. When I first started finding out what I would need U-Haul assured me I would NOT need a 7- pin. Needless to say I went elsewhere.
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Susan and Sunshine (a rare purebred brown dog)

#12 Meadowlark

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Posted 23 October 2016 - 03:55 PM

We put a down payment and then used a certified check to pay the balance when we got to Rice. Like Oregonlavender's experience, we too didn't have the right hitch. Casita will fix you up with the right one. 

I would RUN from any shop U-Haul or otherwise, that said you don't need a 7 pin.

 

The 'portapotty' we've used on occasion is just a five gallon bucket with a toilet seat. I don't remember where we bought it. We line it with a trash bag and fill it with kitty litter and only use it when absolutely necessary. Disposing of it (still in the bag, of course) in a dumpster is the only way but it isn't '''nice'....because it is 'hazardous waste'.

 

YES to the Clam especially there being four of you. Four folks in a Casita can be pretty crowded. But...........the Clam is over six and a half feet long when folded up. Maybe more. It just barely fits in our pickup bed and we have to stow it a bit on the diagonal to get it in.  It's well worth it, though.


These are the voyages of the small ship, "Grus Egg".

2011 17" Spirit Deluxe, "Grus Egg"

 

"Civilization began when we stopped eating horses and began riding them."


#13 lmk17

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 03:15 PM

 

Casita requires a hitch rated @ 3500lbs with a 300lb tongue load for their 16' trailer. I would show the wiring diagram to whomever is installing your brake controller and trailer connection. In my extremely limited knowledge, at least some newer vehicles (last 10 years or so) have a wiring harness installed all ready, it may be tied to the vehicle having a towing package. This harness makes it easier, cheaper to install the brake controller. My 4Runner sadly did not have the harness.
 

 

If you don't mind my asking, how much did you pay for the brake controller and necessary wiring?  I currently have a 2" hitch receiver w/4 pin flat connector on the van.  UHaul has given me 3 quotes on the brake controller and 7-blade connector, each one more expensive.  When I made the appt to have the install done, they quoted $150 installed.  After they messed up on my appt time, they also mentioned they had gotten the original price wrong and that it would be $270-$300 installed.  When I showed up today to drop off the van, they quoted $320 *just for the labor*!  I'm extremely upset with them and have no idea what the going rate for this job is!  (Since I was satisfied enough with the initial $150 quote that I didn't bother to shop around...)

 

The 'portapotty' we've used on occasion is just a five gallon bucket with a toilet seat. I don't remember where we bought it. We line it with a trash bag and fill it with kitty litter and only use it when absolutely necessary. Disposing of it (still in the bag, of course) in a dumpster is the only way but it isn't '''nice'....because it is 'hazardous waste'.

 

If the idea of throwing the waste in the trash bothers you at all, World's Best Kitty Litter (and probably some other brands, too, but this is what we use) is flushable and septic safe.  I actually really like the idea of tossing some cat litter in the bottom of the potty!  Somewhat less messy/smelly!  Thanks!

 

And if anyone is interested, here is Casita's current policy on credit cards:  If the transaction is over $2000, the customer is responsible for the fees that the credit card company charges Casita for running the card.  In my case, that came to an additional $300 or so, so I grabbed a certified check when I was out this afternoon.  :)

 

I am so excited about getting our Casita tomorrow that I seriously may not sleep a wink tonight!  :D



#14 clover

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Posted 24 October 2016 - 04:46 PM

I got mine at Walmart. It is similar to ones we've used when sailing offshore. Or in some of the pop-up tent campers. It has a separate bottom compartment that contains the waste and thus the odors. You can use the standard RV toilet chemicals in it. It also has a water/flushing mechanism. Some of the smaller campers like the pop-up tent campers they will have one of these where it slides into a cabinet or under a bed. You could hang a curtain across one end of the Casita with a tension rod to have some "privacy". 

 

https://www.walmart....arine/22084113'

http://www.thetford....rta-potti-260b/

 

You could also have one of the privacy tents for the potty and a shower. This would be more useful if you every boondock in a remote area. 85% of our camping is NOT in a developed campground. So my thinking is a bit different since out style of camping it to get a bit further away from people and "civilization"

https://www.walmart....-86-In/46164563


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Happy Trails!
Clover
2003 17' SD
2002 F350 Diesel Crew Cab
(I know it is overkill but we live on a real ranch it takes a vacation with the Casita)


#15 stratos175

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  • Trailer Name:Matilda

Posted 25 October 2016 - 03:59 AM

Hello,

Welcome to the Casita Family and as you can tell already with all the responses a true family that is always willing to help. Once I saw my first Casita and then found this group I knew it was the best way to go.

If you are like us and sounds like you are like us and many on this site, the Casita is your bedroom and storage facility and everything outside of that is your den, living room, dining room and playroom  :dncinban:  :danc: . we spend most of our time outside our Casita. Yes nice to have a bathroom in the middle of the night so I don't have to put shoes on to go out to the closest tree (who am I kidding its 2:00 am no ones looking the heck with the tree) but any other time we use he campground facility. We have owned Matilda now for about 3 years and never cooked inside of it or eaten inside of eat unless you call making and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich that.

 

We are spoiled in this country, what we camp in and consider roughing it many other people on the planet would call housing for 8 luxury style.

 

Enjoy your great new toy on wheels and all the adventures that come with it.

 

Safe travels,

 

Steve and Patty


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